I’ve been on the new Giant Trance 29er for 9 months and it’s time for a review.
The Trance 2019 29er 1 in all its glory
This bike is long-awaited from Giant, and is their first try at a progressive–or at least 2019 standard–29er mountain bike.
It looks good on paper, and I put this bike through the ringer in XC, Enduro, hike-a-bikes and full-on DAQ.
Here’s the story.
MY HISTORY WITH THE TRANCE
This bike is a far cry rom the first-generation Trance, but it ticks a lot of the same boxes. The original Trance from 2005 had 100mm of travel front and rear, and was designed as a kind of do-it-all bike. I used that bike for a lot of my trail rides at the time, and even used it in a 24 hour race where I sprinted to second overall [yes, a sprint after 24+ hours!]. Back then there were very few dropper posts around, and I didn’t have one. The bike was also not that different from my Anthem XC bike, albeit a little slacker in the headtube.
And of course, the wheels were 26 inches.
Uh….sweet ride! The 2005 Giant Trance–I rode this one A LOT
But really, I loved the bike because I could do pretty much whatever riding I wanted on it.
And I fell in love with the idea of having one bike to do everything on.
And then in 2013, the original Trance 29er came out. This bike came out at the original peak of the 29er craze. The wheel size had just burst on to the scene, but nobody knew what to do with the bikes. At this time, the geometry of 29ers really was poor and the tyre choice was slim—and that’s when 29ers got a horrible reputation. The original Trance 29er was no exception to being horrible—this bike was too high, too short and too steep. I rode it pretty well in some local XC in Pennsylvania, but it was a pretty poor choice for my first EWS race in Whistler, BC. The bike felt good nowhere, and I went back to two bikes.
This is pretty much what I used for my first EWS in 2013. It was ugly [the bike and the race].
In 2015 though, I once again used a Trance Advanced 0 as my ONLY bike for the season. I used the same bike to ride to a top-10 overall at the 5-day Trans NZ Enduro as I did to win 2x XCO national series races in the Senior Men category, with the only thing changing being the tires. I sometimes changed the fork, too.
The bike had 27.5 inch wheels and was light enough for amateur XC with a pair of Racing Ralphs. The bike’s geometry for XC was very good with the fork travel reduced to 120mm, since this increased the headtube angle to ~68°. I actually loved the bike for XC since the pedalling platform was pretty good, even for 140mm in XC. Plus dropper posts were now the norm, so I felt like I could be really aggressive in XC races.
But for Enduro, the bike sucked. With 140mm up front, the bottom bracket was a bit high in combination with the relatively slack 67° headtube angle. This made the bike wash a bit when climbing, and I had to make a serious effort to stay over the front. It really took a lot of energy to climb.
And things were probably worse when descending, especially since the Trance SX was on offer, which had a longer travel, 160mm fork [and higher-still bottom bracket]. I went as high as 150mm in the front, but then the bike was so high that cornering was extremely clumsy. And even worse still, the top tube was a bit short, so straight line descending wasn’t that great either.
I started to lose hope in the quiver killer.
Was there one bike that existed that could do it all?
Then this year, the Trance 29er came out. Was this THE one?
On paper, it looked perfect. The headtube angle was an intermediate 66.5°, the bottom bracket met current standards, and the wheels were the right size.
I was pretty excited to see if this bike could be IT!
I’ve been waiting for this one. The bike, not the berms.